The Campanile’s NFL Playoff Predictions

NFC Wild Card Round
The Dallas Cowboys are 7-3 as of week ten and have a battle ahead of them for the NFC East. However, due to a relatively easy rest of their schedule, they will prevail and have a record of 11-5, finishing third in the NFC. The Philadelphia Eagles are 7-3 but will lose the NFC East. The team does not have the easiest remaining schedule, and it will struggle and finish 9-7 to take the sixth spot in the NFC. While these two teams have not met yet, the Cowboys have a better quarterback, offensive line and running back. Expect America’s team to move on to the divisional round.

The Detroit Lions are currently 7-3 but will finish 11-5 and take the fifth spot in the NFC playoffs. The Lions will face fourth seed and NFC South winners, the New Orleans Saints, in the wild card round. The Saints are 4-6 right now but will win out and finish 10-6. Although the Saints are coming off of a hot streak, the Lions have one of the best defenses in the NFL and will shut the streaky Saints down. The Lions will also have a healthy Calvin Johnson at wide receiver, who will team up with quarterback Matt Stafford to dominate the Saints on offense. Watch the Lions cruise to the divisional round.

AFC Wild Card Round
Colts are currently 6-4 but will finish their season as AFC South champions and the AFC third seed with a record of 11-5. The San Diego Chargers are also 6-4 right now but will finish 9-7 and take the sixth spot in the AFC playoffs and mark the third AFC West team in the playoffs. The Chargers are a solid squad behind veteran quarterback and Philip Rivers. Yet the team lacks a great defense, a solid running back or great wide receivers. The Colts have the hottest youngster in Andrew Luck at quarterback and have good wide receivers and a dominant defense. Watch the Colts outmatch the Chargers and move on to the AFC divisional round for the second year in a row.

The Kansas City Chiefs are 7-3 right now and will finish 10-6. While they are a great team, they will not win the AFC West and will finish fourth in the AFC standings. The Cincinnati Bengals are 6-3-1 currently and will finish 10-5-1 and take the AFC North and the fifth seed in the AFC playoffs. The Bengals have a strong young running back in Gio Bernard, an elite wide receiver in A.J. Green and a tough defense. But the Chiefs have a great quarterback in Alex Smith but have the NFL’s best running back with Jamaal Charles, solid wide receivers and a punishing defense. Watch the Chiefs dominate on their path to the AFC divisional round.

NFC Divisional Round
The Green Bay Packers are 7-3 right now but will improve to 12-4 by the end of the season and will win the NFC North and finish second in the NFC playoffs. While the Cowboys have a deadly offense, the Packers are a complete team that dominates the field no matter which side of the ball they are on. Their destructive defense is led by Clay Matthews, Sam Shields and Julius Peppers, who can all dominate effectively. Aaron Rodgers is the team’s elite quarterback, who delivers dots to star wideouts Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Expect the Cowboys to fall behind early and struggle to match Green Bay’s potent offense. Watch Green Bay move on to the NFC Championship game.

The Arizona Cardinals have the best record in the NFL right now at 8-1. The Cardinals will finish the season 14-2 and will win the NFC West and take the top seed in the NFC playoffs. The Cardinals will face the Lions, who will be coming off of a win. Even though the Lions have a great defense, they will be shut down by the electric Cardinals offense. The Cardinals will be led by backup quarterback Drew Stanton but will rely on speedy running back Andre Ellington and veteran receiver Larry Fitzgerald to anchor their offense. Additionally, the Cardinals have the best defense in the NFL, with Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, and will shut the Lions down. Be ready for the Cardinals to go to the NFC Championship game.

AFC Divisional Round
The Denver Broncos have the best offense in the NFL and are 7-3 right now but will finish 13-3 to win the AFC West and take the second seed in the AFC. The Colts are a great team but will lose to the Broncos for the second year in a row in the AFC divisional round. The Colts have Luck and their defense, but Peyton Manning and his plethora of wide receivers will reign supreme. Additionally, the Broncos have a nasty defense, led by Demarcus Ware, Von Miller, Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward. Expect the Broncos to explode and easily get to the AFC Championship game.

The New England Patriots are the best team in the AFC and have a record of 8-2. The Patriots will finish the season at 13-3 and will easily take the top seed in the AFC and win the AFC East. The Chiefs are a solid team but will fall to the Patriots despite beating them earlier this season. While the Chiefs dominated that matchup, the Patriots have gotten out of their rut and have really exploded this part of the season. Watch quarterback Tom Brady keep connecting with tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Julian Edelman, while Jonas Gray runs all over the Chiefs along with other Patriots running backs.

NFC Championship Game
The Cardinals are an excellent team but will fall before the Super Bowl. The Packers have the leadership of coach Mike McCarthy and several veterans, and the Cardinals are young but inexperienced. Expect Drew Stanton to be unable to match Aaron Rodgers and for the Green Bay defense to disrupt the offense of Arizona. Watch the Packers go to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2010.

AFC Championship Game
Although the Denver Broncos suffered a bad loss to the New England Patriots earlier this season, the Broncos are a dominant force. Peyton Manning is better than Tom Brady, it’s as simple as that. The Broncos defense is better than that of the Patriots. The Broncos have Montee Ball and C.J. Anderson, who can keep up with Jonas Gray and the Patriots running backs. And while the Patriots have star tight end Rob Gronkowski, the Broncos have athletic youngster Julius Thomas. As long as the Broncos play to their potential, they should be going to the Super Bowl for the second year in a row.

Super Bowl
The Green Bay Packers are a fantastic team, but the Denver Broncos are just better. Peyton Manning will be clutch, unlike last Super Bowl. The Broncos have an electric offense, but their defense might be the only one that can stop the Packers. The Broncos are young, fast and hard-hitting. The players are smart and will be able to stop Eddie Lacy and cover Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. The Broncos offensive line can neutralize Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers, and the Broncos receivers are straight up better than the Packers cornerbacks. Watch Peyton Manning win his second Super Bowl and lead the Broncos to their third Super Bowl victory ever.

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